In recent times, the Italian SSVP has requested all its members to reflect on the political dimension of charity and on the relationship the Society and its members have with politics.
The request began with the publication of the volume of Frédéric Ozanam’s social and political writings, edited by brother Maurizio Ceste, member of the Historical Studies Committee of the International Federation. The volume The highest form of charity, published in 2019 in Italy, quotes the famous sentence of St. Paul VI, which refers to politics, and compiles letters, extracts from historical studies, university lectures, as well as all the journalistic articles taken from Le Correspondant and L’Ère nouvelle, focused on social and political themes. It is the first time that these articles have been collected and published all together. Many of them, still dusty, have never been published, not even in France, and are preserved in the rooms of the National Library of France.
Following this publication, the Italian SSVP held two webinars via YouTube watched by over 3,000 people. The former in September 2020, Ozanam, apostle of modern times; and the latter in April, Is the social and political message of Ozanam still relevant?.
This last webinar, attended by our International President, Renato Lima de Oliveira (download the president’s speech in spanish), aroused much interest precisely because of references made to current events, which are still concealed in Ozanam’s writings.
The speakers stressed how the birth of the Conferences was revolutionary, prophetic and political: students and citizens decided to take the side of the weakest, the poorest, in the name of charity, challenging the righteous, the class division, the indifference of the state and the majority of the clergy, and the exploitation by the emerging industry. Unfortunately, this situation remains unchanged today in many parts of the world.
However, we are still in time: Let’s coin Ozanam’s famous appeal in L’Ère nouvelle, dated September 16th, 1848: “Aux gens de bien“. Those good people are also us, 21st-century Vincentians, who, just by pooling efforts and seeking the collaboration of all good-willed people, can tackle poverty and make justice prevail. A real political deed.